That was the sound of two guides and a
smattering of tourists counting the last four steps of the Incan Trail as a walked down them.
I am at Macchu Picchu.
Our day started at 4 am with soft greetings from the porters. Within and hour and fifteen minutes, we were fed, dressed, packed and ready to hike into the dark.
The plan is that we will be able to hike the 5 kilometers into the city in time
to see the sun rise over it. After which, Hosea would take everyone on a two hour tour to all the cool stuff in the city.
Hosea and I had a meeting and agreed that I wasn’t going to be able to hike
in that fast, so my old friend Enrique would hike with me and give me a private
tour. This worked great for me cause it took off the pressure of having to keep
up with everyone else. I do not feel well at all this morning. I am in a world
of pain and I think I am just spent…..physically, emotionally, and mentally.
I feel like I have given everything I have during the last three days and I am not sure where the next 5K are going to come from.
As we descended down more steps from camp, I just concentrated on the little circle of light that my head lamp created. All I had to worry about was what was in that light. Follow it long enough and I will reach Machhu Picchu.
As the sun started to lighten things up, I could see a big rock wall on one
side, a big drop off on the others and a mountain range towering above everything.
The sky is becoming bluer and bluer and tons of birds are waking up. It is a beautiful day.
I am really struggling, though. I can’t seem to stay focused, and I keep
trying to bring my mind back to the task at hand. Things have gotten really rocky and steep and I know that now is not the time to be thinking about anything else!
After two hours, we crested at the top of a towering ruin that overlooks Macchu Picchu. It is the famous view that most pictures of the city are taken from and it is the first view an Incan Trail hiker sees of the city. I really thought it would be very emotional and that I would be filled with pride and happiness…
but I am just too tired. And I still have an hour and a half of hiking to go. I
counted it as one step closer to my goal and headed down into the city. Enrique
went ahead and I slowly started to meet tourists coming up from the bottom.
Funny enough, it is the guides that recognize that I have been hiking the trail, ratherthan just walking up to the overlook like most people. These guides kept stopping and congratulating me and explaining to their groups what I had done. Before long, it seemed like my whole hike down was full of congratulations and well wishes and I felt my spirits really start to rise. That pride I had been missing at the top slowly started to bubble up. I started seeing my family and friends smile at me in my minds eye and knew that I was almost done.
Finally, I got to the bottom….
“4…3…2…1…”, and I burst out crying.
I am so happy, tired, proud, exhausted and fullfilled. This was so hard, but worth every single step.
Enrique and Arturo hugged me and then bustled me off to get my passport stamped.
Can you imagine how proud I am of that stamp?! I asked the guy to stamp it 14 times, but had to settle for one.
We sat down at a table for a rest and a snack. I truly never wanted to move
again. I finally looked at Enrique and asked if we could do a one hour tour instead of two, and if we could stick to the bottom of the city. No stairs…. He agreed and off we went.
If you ever visit Macchu Picchu, know that it is a really hard city to tour. There are tons and tons of rock staircases you have to manuever.
Of course, Enrique took me up and down lots of them, but kept his word and kept
me in the bottom part of the city.
The buildings are amazing, and are a mixture of the perfect Incan stone structures we hear so much about, and many simpler stone buildings. There are temples and holy places scattered with bright green grass and grazing llamas. I know you are tired of hearing about it, but the sky is the brightest blue and the ring of mountains surrounding the city are rugged, towering and green. We all agree that Peru has rolled out it’s most beautiful weather for us!
Finally, the tour ended and I headed over to the concession stand. I heard
a familiar voice crying, “Anita!” and looked over to see Deb. NOW I am
happy!!! I have missed her so much and it just wasn’t right that she wasn’t
with us. She looks great and seems to have healed from her lung problems. Now,
we are four again and life is fantastic!!!!
The rest of the day was filled with trains, buses and logistics, none of which were exciting. I feel like I have done what I set out to do and from here on out, the rest is gravy. For now, I just want to sleep.